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Classical Music


Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade

Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade Lowest new price: $11.61
Lowest used price: $13.80
Brand: Rca
Model: 2195007


This is a classic recording of these two works, led with grand authority by Fritz Reiner. The Chicago's brass and wind section play gloriously throughout, and the final movement of Scheherazade (we learn from the original producer [1960] in an accompanying essay) was recorded in one take--an almost unheard-of feat. This fast movement is taken at breakneck speed, with no loss of clarity or power, with the strings in the hands of magicians. Stravinsky's Nightingale has never sounded so exotic, so bristling over with color, since this 1956(!) recording under Reiner, and the wonderful surprise with this new release of old material is the revamped sound: the original "Living Stereo" was a fantastic breakthrough in recording, and this new SACD format has returned the spatial relationships to something so "real" that it comes as close as I've ever heard to a true concert hall experience. Simply glorious. --Robert Levine


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A to Z of Classical Music (3rd Extended Edition)

A to Z of Classical Music (3rd Extended Edition) Lowest new price: $15.22
Lowest used price: $12.35
Brand: Naxos
Model: 8555319-20

Keith Anderson's comp is a model of efficiency, packing 2 CDs and a 930-page book into a box and providing a code and password to stream and download more than 15 hours of additional music! As thick as the book is, it's small enough to take with you, offering a brief overview of the lives and works of hundreds of composers. On the CDs: selections from Brahms' Symphony No. 3 , Dvorak's Symphony No. 8 ; Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique ; Wagner's Tristan and Isolde ; Stravinsky's Petrushka , plus Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, Schubert, Schumann, Verdi, Vivaldi and more!

Is it a two-CD set with a particularly thick booklet, or a 562-page book with a compilation album attached? Either way, the unpretentious text by Keith Anderson offers an introduction to the lives and works of dozens of composers, together with recommended recordings from the Naxos and Marco Polo catalogs. Anderson includes a useful 59-page glossary of musical terms and an extensive listing of classical pieces used in films. The odd thing about the 36 extracts and complete pieces on the CDs is that they do not form an A-to-Z at all. Rather, they are arranged chronologically, from 1,000-year-old Gregorian chant to the opening movement of contemporary composer Philip Glass's Violin Concerto. Between these two points is the early music of Palestrina and Byrd; the Baroque glories of Vivaldi and Bach; the 19th-century Romantic masters, from Beethoven to Tchaikovsky; and such 20th-century greats as Rachmaninov and Stravinsky. Opera, song, and chamber music are barely represented, but only so much can fit into 151 minutes. Essentially a deluxe sampler of the vast Naxos catalogue, the discs offer a good introduction to some of the most famous and melodic music ever composed, while the book will be very useful to newcomers to the potentially confusing world of classical music. --Gary S. Dalkin


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Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps (Rite of Spring) / The Firebird / Jeu de cartes / Petrouchka / Pulcinella

Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps (Rite of Spring) / The Firebird / Jeu de cartes / Petrouchka / Pulcinella Lowest new price: $11.80
Lowest used price: $8.94
Brand: CD
Model: 1991118


This is an excellent Stravinsky collection on all counts. Claudio Abbado's recordings with the London Symphony Orchestra represent the high-water mark of his career, and DG captured the partnership in generally fine sound. This recording of the complete Pulcinella, with the songs included, set an entirely new standard for the work, and its excellence has worn very well in the couple of decades since its initial release. The performance of Jeu de Cartes (Card Game) also should win many new friends for this entertaining late work. As to the Big Three ballets, all of them were among the most recommendable versions when they first came out, and they still are. --David Hurwitz

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Stravinsky: The Firebird/Borodin: Music from Prince Igor

Stravinsky: The Firebird/Borodin: Music from Prince Igor Lowest new price: $6.32
Lowest used price: $2.77
Model: 2022799

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Flute for Relaxation

Flute for Relaxation Lowest new price: $6.01
Lowest used price: $2.18
Brand: Rca
Model: 2026012



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Romances For Saxophone

Romances For Saxophone Lowest new price: $19.95
Lowest used price: $1.53
Brand: Sony
Model: 2010700

Marsalis,Branford ~ Romances For Saxophone

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Stravinsky: Le sacre du printemps / Petrouchka

Stravinsky: Le sacre du printemps / Petrouchka Lowest used price: $3.13
Model: 2012104

With the New York Philharmonic on its best behavior, Pierre Boulez uncorks a reading of Petrushka that is vibrant, energetic, and full-voiced, with razor-sharp rhythm and ensemble. The solos, played by the likes of Julius Baker (flute) and Paul Jacobs (piano), have never been more effectively done. The recording, with the sizzling sonics typical of CBS's multitrack heyday, offers an X-ray of the score; the remastering is excellent. Pierre Boulez's interpretation of The Rite of Spring is perhaps more French than Russian, but it's impressive nonetheless. While it emphasizes structure, clarity, and texture over raw energy and visceral excitement, and always keeps something in reserve, it is tellingly potent in the "Glorification of the Chosen One" and the "Sacrificial Dance." In this account Boulez and the Cleveland Orchestra established a new standard for ensemble, virtuosity, and idiomatic execution of the music, and their recording remains one of the great achievements of the stereo era. --Ted Libbey

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Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition; Stravinsky: Three Dances From Petrouchka

Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition; Stravinsky: Three Dances From Petrouchka Lowest used price: $5.25

Ivan Moravec's performances of the Scherzos make an interesting contrast to the supercharged versions of Cyprien Katsaris (Teldec). Katsaris is often frenetically fast, and he convinces you by overwhelming you. Moravec is more nuanced, mellower, more downright sensible. Yet he never lacks for excitement, and in the end his playing is a more profound and satisfying statement of the music. The other selected Chopin pieces are just as satisfying, and the recording, made in the legendary Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, is extremely realistic. This is one of the better Chopin recitals currently available. --Leslie Gerber

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December Stillness

December Stillness Lowest new price: $12.65
Lowest used price: $3.98

World class choir here offers twelve carols and anthems evoking the beautiful starkness of winter. These are 20th century choral works by Penderecki, Rachmaninoff, Poulenc, Stravinsky and several other composers.

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Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps

Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps Lowest new price: $16.49
Lowest used price: $12.63

Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Igor Markevich STRAVINSKY Le Sacre du printemps (1951 & 1959 recordings) Philharmonia Orchestra Recorded in MONO/*STEREO

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